Audi e-tron

Sportback 55 quattro

Lopping the boot off the e-tron isn’t as mad as it may at first seem, discovers Jonathan Musk.

Audi e-tron

Sportback 55 quattro

Lopping the boot off the e-tron isn’t as mad as it may at first seem, discovers Jonathan Musk.

SECTOR Premium SUV coupé PRICE £79,900-£95,900 RANGE 240 miles CHARGING CCS 150kW

Audi’s official second fully electric car seems a bit of a cheat, being very much the same as the first e-tron but now with a new boot: losing the SUV lines in favour of a raised coupé line. But looks can be deceiving, and the new e-tron Sportback is more than just a minor surface change as it represents a subtle more car-like attitude all around.

With 0% Benefit-in-Kind, company car drivers may be persuaded that it’s the car for them, but the eye-watering asking price may put many off the required monthly outgoings.

Driving the e-tron’s all four wheels is Audi’s electric quattro, which pumps out a healthy 402hp at its peak. However, more telling and an important note for anyone new to electric vehicles is its continuous power output, which at 134hp is significantly less.

It’s no slouch despite this, with the 55 quattro version taking 6.6 seconds to reach 62mph (S line version is a bit quicker).

However, it really exhibits its weight and feels like an effort to get it rolling despite massive amounts of 561Nm torque (664Nm at peak).

Other oddities lie in its strange reversing up a slight incline sees it rolls forwards as if you’ve left the brake off. Stamp on the brake pedal and it will hold, but subtle movements are a dark art, making the otherwise serenely calm vehicle appear somewhat disgruntled with it nodding back and forth into a space. Obviously, this can be overcome with a little patience, but it isn’t the most intuitive EV to drive.

Conventional side mirrors have also been done away with, and it’s unfortunate to report that the in-cabin integration feels particularly lazy and unnatural to look at. Firstly, the cameras display a narrow field of view and secondly the screens are door mounted and thus out of the usual eye line. As a consequence of this, and the fact they’re screens, they necessitate the driver to change their focus from far ahead through the windscreen to up close in-car to focus. Adding to the issue is the small size of screens compared to a mirror that can simply be glanced at. It’s unfortunate as it needn’t be like this and other camera mirror replacement systems work well.

Range is rated at 240 miles from its 95kWh battery, which, frankly, is less than the competition. While it is certainly plenty for most (and is backed up by ever-growing and abundant rapid charge points), it’s a shame the car has been made so heavy that range is restricted. Put it this way, that’s a lower range than cars with a third less battery and similar amounts of tech.

So is the e-tron Sportback a total write-off? Curiously, no. It manages to appeal to all the right senses and offers a truly luxurious ride complemented by a smooth and well-sorted electric powertrain. It also looks the business and despite being subtly styled, attracts admiring glances wherever you might be. And surely, to some measure, that’s the point.

THE LOWDOWN

KEY FLEET MODEL

AUDI E-TRON SPORTBACK 55 QUATTRO

STRENGTHS

QUALITY FIT AND FINISH; SLEEK LOOKS

WEAKNESSES

UNIMPRESSIVE RANGE AND POWER

THE VERDICT

Lower boot line doesn’t hinder practicality much, but elevates the e-tron into an expensive but smart electric cruiser.

THE LOWDOWN

KEY FLEET MODEL

AUDI E-TRON SPORTBACK 55 QUATTRO

STRENGTHS

QUALITY FIT AND FINISH; SLEEK LOOKS

WEAKNESSES

UNIMPRESSIVE RANGE AND POWER

THE VERDICT

Lower boot line doesn’t hinder practicality much, but elevates the e-tron into an expensive but smart electric cruiser.

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